2020-9-8

Linda Beale Thompson

April 18, 1947-September 7, 2020

Visitation Services

Wednesday, September 9, 2020, from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

Wrenn, Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Services
1015 West 5th Street
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870

Thursday, September 10, 2020, starting at 2:00 P.M.

Forrest Hills Baptist Church
2103 Pine Log Road
Skippers, Va, 23879

Linda Beale Thompson, 73, passed away on Monday, September 7, 2020. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clara Davis and Carole Quinton Beale, along with her two brothers, Linwood C. Warrick “Bubba” and Eddie W. Warrick. Linda was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and was a retired employee from the City of Emporia.

She is survived by, her husband, Allen W. Thompson of Emporia, VA., sons, Jason D. Rook (Rhonda) of Emporia, VA., Allen W. Thompson, Jr. (Crystal) of Lexington, SC., grandchildren, Joshua D. Rook, Emma L. Rook, Devin W. Thompson, Cassie H. Thompson, along with her two pets, Muff and Lady.

The family will receive friends at Wrenn, Clarke & Hagan Funeral and Cremation Services, Wednesday, September 9, 2020, from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

A funeral service will be held at Forrest Hills Baptist Church, 2103 Pine Log Road, Skippers, Va, 23879, on Thursday, September 10, 2020, starting at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Terry Corder and Rev. Rick Ragan officiating with an interment to follow at Forrest Hills Baptist Church Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Emporia/Greensville Human Society of Emporia, 206 Industrial Dr., Emporia, VA, 23847.

Evelyn Woodruff Moore

February 26, 1936-September 7, 2020

Visitation Services

10 a.m. Thursday, September 10

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

11 a.m. Thursday, September 10

Owen Funeral Home
303 S. Halifax Rd
Jarratt, Virginia

 

Evelyn Woodruff Moore, 84, of Jarratt, widow of Wilbur H. Moore, passed away Monday, September 7, 2020. She was the daughter of the late William Albert Woodruff and Verna Braxton Woodruff. She was also preceded in death by brothers, Frank, William “Bill”, Cecil, Charles “Tuck” and Daniel Woodruff and sisters, Sue W. Odom, Betty Jarratt Fitzgerald and Katherine “Kitty” Ehrhart.

Mrs. Moore is survived by her children, Wilbur H. Moore, Jr. (Peggy), Kathy M. Carroll (Mike), Richard D. “Doug” Moore (Sherri) and Albert “Keith” Moore (Renee’); grandchildren, Melissa Moore, Michelle Carroll, Danny Moore, Ricky Moore, Rebecca Moore Chester and Bryan K. Moore; nine great-grandchildren and one on the way; brother, Onnie L. Woodruff (Brenda); sisters, Shelia W. Pierce (Bobby) and Ann W. Floyd (Luke) and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, September 10 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd, Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at High Hills Cemetery.

Please consider all protocols for covid-19 including masks and social distancing.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

 

House, Senate committees advance bills for expungement of criminal records

By Joseph Whitney Smith, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia House and Senate committees have advanced legislation that would remove certain criminal records in a criminal justice reform effort that allows people to petition for expungement of convictions, not just charges. 

Senate Bill 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and House Bill 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, would expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. 

Deeds said the bill expands the cases available for expungement and will create an easier process for individuals seeking expungement. 

Deeds’ bill heads to the Senate floor after moving through two Senate committees. The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee gave the bill the green light Thursday with a 16-0 vote. Herring’s bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee with a 13-9 vote.

Deed’s bill would allow expungement of records for cases such as misdemeanor marijuana possession, underage alcohol or tobacco possession, and using a fake ID to buy alcohol. The bill allows expungement five years past conviction and once court fines have been paid. The bill excludes violent felonies and drug-related offenses such as marijuana possession over an ounce, distribution of drugs to a person under 18, and the manufacturing, possession or distribution of controlled substances like heroin and methamphetamine.

“Simple marijuana possession is no longer a crime in Virginia, so you ought to be able to expunge those convictions,” Deeds said.

Herring’s bill creates an automatic system that after eight years expunges certain charges that have been abandoned or dismissed, as well as certain convictions, including some felonies if there are no subsequent convictions.

The current process includes filing a petition, being fingerprinted, paying a filing fee and possibly attending a court hearing, according to Colin Drabert, deputy director of the Virginia State Crime Commission, who spoke during a commission hearing Monday. Virginia is one of nine states that do not allow the expungement of a misdemeanor and one of 14 states that do not allow the expungement of a felony, he said. 

Virginia State Police receive approximately 4,000 expungement orders for non-convictions per year for the past three years, Drabert said. If Herring’s bill passes,  cases that are acquitted, dismissed or a nolle prosequi entered, will be automatically expunged by the court handling the case -- excluding traffic violations. For convictions, Herring’s bill outlines a new, at least monthly process that has state police provide to the courts an electronic list of qualifying offenses that meet automatic expungement. Once a judge approves the names and offenses, the records are expunged.

“There is a stigma attached when someone has a mark on their record from difficulty in finding employment,” Herring said during a House Courts of Justice hearing. Criminal records also can impact an individual’s ability to attend college, receive financial aid or find housing, she said. 

Andy Elders, policy director at Justice Forward Virginia and chief public defender for Fairfax County, said expungement helps people re-establish themselves in society. 

“Many people who have criminal convictions on their records, have them as a result of over-policing of communities of color,” Elders said. 

Dana G. Schrad, executive director of Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the proposed changes won’t allow certain employers to access expungement records, including police chiefs who conduct thorough background checks before hiring individuals.

“If these expungement proposals are enacted into law, law enforcement hiring processes will be further compromised,” Schrad said.

Deed’s bill would not require disclosure of expungement. Herring’s  bill will prohibit automatically expunged records from being seen unless applying for law enforcement and certain federal and state positions.

Schrad also said the law change could impact background checks for teachers, child care providers, mental health and social workers.

Though the governor promised sweeping criminal justice reform in January, the newly-elected Democratic majority failed during the regular session to pass bills such as reinstating parole and expungement of records. Deeds’ bill, if passed, would take effect January 2022. Herring’s bill would be phased in and require multiple agencies to sign off on the implementations.

Virginians debate whether COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory

By Will Gonzalez, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Though the federal government is asking states to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine within months, some Virginians differ on whether the vaccine should be mandatory when it becomes available.

Virginia Freedom Keepers, a nonprofit that advocates for medical freedom, gathered in Richmond this week for a “March Against Mandates,” in protest of the statewide mask mandate, as well as a potential vaccine mandate, in response to COVID-19. The Virginia General Assembly is currently holding a special session to discuss the budget, along with COVID-19 and criminal justice reform measures.

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said in a recent interview with ABC-8 (WRIC-TV), that if he is still Virginia’s acting Health Commissioner when a COVID-19 vaccine is made available, he will make immunization mandatory.

“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Oliver said.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office did not back up the health commissioner’s statement. Northam’s administration told WRIC it had “taken no official policy position on whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine for adults should be mandatory.” Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Capital News Service. According to the Virginia Department of Health press office, when Dr. Oliver spoke in support of a mandate for a future COVID-19 vaccine, he was “sharing his personal opinion as a physician.”

Virginia law currently gives the health commissioner the authority to issue a mandate for a vaccine in the case of an epidemic. The law allows doctors to exempt people from vaccination if their health would be negatively affected. A. E. Dick Howard, a professor of international law at the University of Virginia, says this statute must be read in light of the state constitution, which states the commonwealth’s executive power is vested in the governor, meaning it’s unlikely that Oliver would have the final word.

“This provision is meant to focus both authority and responsibility of the governor. It therefore argues against the splintering of authority in the executive branch,” Howard said in an email.

 The current language exempts those with a note written by a doctor, but two Virginia delegates wanted to exempt people who object to vaccination on religious grounds.

HB 5070, introduced by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, and HB 5016, introduced by Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, have similar wording. The two bills, which were tabled during the special session, would have eliminated the health commissioner’s authority to enforce a vaccination mandate for people who object due to religious beliefs. 

“I am concerned that there is such a rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, that normal safety and effectiveness testing may be bypassed, leading to the distribution of a vaccine that has not been fully tested,” Cole said in an email. “Who knows what the health consequences of short-circuiting the process may be?”

LaRock did not respond to a request for comment about his bill. Cole said constituents concerned about a mandatory vaccine asked him to introduce HB 5016, and that “religious beliefs” in the bill incorporates any belief system, including secularism. 

“I am old enough to remember the Swine Flu scare more than 40 years ago. President Ford started a program of public vaccinations to protect people from it,” Cole said. “I received the vaccine when I was in college.” 

In 1976, a swine flu outbreak in New Jersey led President Gerald Ford to issue a nationwide immunization program, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of the 40 million Americans who received the vaccine around 500 are suspected to have contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that damages nerve cells and causes paralysis in some cases.

“No one should be forced to take a vaccine. Every vaccine has some health risks associated with it; they may be relatively minor, but they are there,” Cole said. “Vaccines that have been tested and found to be effective and safe should be offered to the public, and I am confident that most people will take advantage of it, including myself.” 

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states have the authority to regulate for the protection of the public and a community has the right to protect itself against an “epidemic of disease,” regardless of one’s political or religious objections, according to the National Constitution Center. The ruling allowed the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts to fine residents who refused to receive smallpox injections. According to Howard, in the case of a mandatory vaccine, the court ruled that states may create an exemption based on religion but are not obliged to do so.

“Thus, the question of what qualifies as a religious exemption depends on how a statute is drafted and interpreted,” Howard said.

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